Life
by David Covucci on May 7, 2013

Asked how many girlfriends that entails, the number is loose. Two where we’ve had explicit conversations about our monogamy; three or four others when our exclusivity was somewhat implied. Regardless, every time the opportunity to be unfaithful has presented itself, I took it.

And it wasn’t, it wasn’t because I needed sex or needed love. The only undercurrent to all of them is simply that I needed to do it. Had to cheat. The desire to feel like the only restrictions existing in my life were the ones I placed on myself and that I could, regardless of anyone else, change at the moment of my pleasing. Stand up and boldly say, “Nope. I’m not monogamous. Not just because you said I am.”

It may be independence.

My first girlfriend asked me not to do it. It was a decade ago and I still remember the plea, so succinct and simple. “Please don’t cheat on me.”

She said it was the only thing that could truly hurt her. Bring upon her the kind of unendurable pain you can’t believe is real.

It was the night before I left for college, so you can understand her need to express what’s typically left unsaid.

I made it a week, although not really. The first seven days consisted of an outdoor excursion: trust falls and shit so incoming freshman could feel like they’d already made friends. The first night, my actual first night on campus, I was up until four making out with a girl I’d met on the trip.

I’d asked her to come over that next afternoon and she said yes.

My last girlfriend, it was like the total opposite experience. We were failing, at each other, staying together only because breaking up was harder. This was the tail end of my five years at college and I was heading home for Easter. She asked if I would refrain from calling her that weekend. She said she wanted to see what it was really like to be apart.

So I called a hookup from the prior year. We met at a bar and started dancing alone, ignoring the shitty cover band.

“Don’t you have a girlfriend?”

“Actually,” I said, taking my hand off her hip, “She told me the other day she doesn’t want to talk to me.”

I remember those words so well because I phrased them so carefully, so I wouldn’t lie.

It may be guilt.

I’ve been cheated on once. I found out not through her own admission but my invasiveness, seeking what I swore was true. My hand shook so badly after seeing the proof that I knew she would hear me from the bathroom, the plastic of her phone rattling against the glass table I was trying to quietly set it back on.

I decided I would pretend I never saw it, but I couldn’t look at her after. At all. I moved to the far side of the couch when she sat back down. She gently, almost comfortingly and naively—she had to know—asked me what was wrong.

That was the worst. Like someone shoveled tar down my throat. Sitting in my stomach for days.

That was the big shift toward what would be our eventual demise. I couldn’t ever stop thinking about it. Not her fucking some guy. That didn’t bother me. It was that I no longer believed any word coming out of her mouth.

This was two years to the season that I cheated on her.

I guess now would be the appropriate time to mention that I’ve never been caught or come clean about my own actions. No girl knows I ever cheated.

It may be the consequences.

I like to know what they are. When my first girlfriend told me cheating was the one part of her belief system that was unshakable, that became the one thing I had to do. See if it was true.

Then I did it and never told her. Not even when she asked.

When my last girlfriend told me she didn’t want to speak to me, I felt she had to live with that decision, had to know she drove me to fuck another girl while she was back at her house, hopefully despondent about what she’d wished for.

Then I did it and never told her. Not even when she asked.

I got to experience no consequences.

It may be cheating.

You see, had I gotten caught, my first ex probably would have told she’d never speak to me again.

She’s not talking to me now as is.

My other, she probably would have taken me back.

And we did stay together for three more years.

Because consequences are what we make them to be.

I didn’t want my ex to never speak to me again and I didn’t want my ex to take me back. So I never told them, hoping to avoid the consequences.

And I got what I deserved.

Follow D.C. on Twitter and read more of his work at Meeting Girls on Metro.

[Cheating man image via ShutterStock]